Saturday, August 13, 2011

The British Library Conservation Studio

For our last class we went on a behind the scenes tour of the British Library Centre for Conservation. After placing our belongings minus notepads and pencils in the lockers, we met our guide inside the entrance to the library. We walked up a flight of stairs and across the restaurant patio to the conservation studios. The conservation studios are on the top floor of a three-story state of the art addition to the St. Pancras building and was completed in 2007.

During our tour we were shown by a conservator how she was approaching the preservation of palm leaves that were a Hare Krishna text from the mid 14th century. All in all there were two hundred and fifty-three leaves, and she attempts to process five per day. Not all of them were damaged, but some that were required a lot of work. For the ones missing larger parts of the leaves, she would repair them by using a pulp and leaf-caster machine. Whereas for the leaves with small holes in them or minor damage, she would meticulously patch the holes by hand using small fragments of pulp.

On the next part of the tour we went into another studio and were shown by our guide, Mark, how leather binding is prepared in order to put gold leaf lettering on the spine. First he polished the surface of the leather with a hot iron and created a smooth surface. Next he applied glair, a glaze made of egg whites, to the leather while explaining the importance of room temperature for this process. Then he placed gold leaf on the glair followed by the application of the heated metal letters. Mark explained that there is a chemical reaction between the glair and gold leaf and that essentially the heat cooks the images of the letters into the leather. It was all very interesting and I don’t think that I’ll ever look at gold lettering on books the same way again!

At the end of our tour we were led into the Foyle Visitor and Learning Centre, an interactive display area showing the methods of book and sound conservatorship. Our guide gave us booklets pertaining to preservation such as Basic Preservation, Bookbindings, Damaged books, and Photographic material. I hope to make use of these materials someday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Middle Temple Library

Middle Temple Library is a law library in central London. The architect, Sir Edward Moft, designed the building to be built using reinforced concrete in response to the original library that had been heavily damaged by bombing during WWII. So the current library building was completed in the 1950s. It is one of four Inns’ libraries including the Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. Every barrister in the United Kingdom is required to join an Inn, and each Inn has its respective library.

The founder of the library was Robert Ashley who donated his personal library as the foundation for the Middle Temple Library. His collection included a large portion of John Donne’s personal library, about eighty books, as well as his collection on alchemy. We saw Ashley’s alchemy collection on display. In addition the library has two globes from the 16th century on display. One of the globes is a celestial globe, whereas the other is a terrestrial globe and both are made of lacquered papier-mache. On the terrestrial globe the northwest section of North America is non-existent reflecting that Drake and Cook hadn’t explored there yet.

The Middle Temple Library has a history with New England, and the United States. Several of the signers of the U.S. Constitution were Middle Temple graduates. So the librarians brought us to see the American Collection. It is the largest collection of U.S. law and materials outside of the U.S., most of which was developed after WWII. The collection users are mostly lawyers doing commercial law or laws directly pertaining to the U.S. Not only do they have access to the materials in the Middle Temple Library, but they have a well- developed online database and services to draw from too.

Some of the honorary members to the library have been Sir Walter Raleigh and Prince Williams. There is even a table made from the hatch of the Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drake’s ship.

The Middle Temple Inn and its library appear to be a perfect retreat, research center, and meeting place for lawyers away from the maddening crowds on Fleet Street.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

King's College Maughan Library

The library has been at its current location since 2001. It is the consolidation of four King's College campus libraries. Formerly, the building was used as a records office. It is owned by the Crown Estates and leased to the college. The library serves eleven or more thousand students per year. The students study in the areas of the humanities, social sciences, law, and health science. King’s College and its affiliate, the University of London, receive a thousand or more visitors worldwide each year. It is open twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Wireless Internet is available throughout the building and self-service stations are available throughout the building for checking out materials. There are group study areas, social seating and a snack room for eating and socializing. The librarians roam about the library in order to provide immediate reference to its users. The stacks are movable or rolling shelves to provide more shelving space. In the area of math science journals are only available on the online database. The closed access part of the collection includes the student theses, and the Zion College collection. Both can be requested via the catalog. There is an audiovisual collection of CDs, DVDs, and VHSs. The DVDs fall under a certain copyright per region, the library gets around these limitations by having multi-region players. There is a round reading room modeled after the one in the British Museum.

The Foyle Special Collections Room has over 130,000 books, journals, pamphlets, maps and other printed materials. The items that were placed on display for us to see and browse through included: a 17th century travel and discovery map of the world showing California as an island, printed in London 1671; the Nuremburg Chronicle History of the World from 1493; from the St. Thomas collection a 1491 edition of the Garden of Health; a 17th century doctor’s annotated ledger; a 19th century copy of Florence Nightingale’s book about the sanitary conditions during the Crimean War; a 1953 Coronation Album of Queen Elizabeth II showing photos of celebrations throughout the Commonwealth; and a book printed and donated by Benjamin Franklin about the Charters of the Province of Pensilvania and Philadelphia MDCCXLII (original spelling).

After visiting the Foyle Special Collections Room, our class was split up in two groups for a tour of the library. Our group saw how the facilities were laid out. We even went up to the tower where there are individual study rooms with windows overlooking the skyline of London.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Carnegie Library, Dunfermline, Scotland

Dunfermline was the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie Library there was the first one to be gifted by him. J.C. Walker designed the building and it was opened to the public on the 29th of August 1883. In the entrance hall of the building there is a bust of Carnegie’s mother. The library provides free Internet access to its users and the collection holds about 59,000 materials. The special collections include the Murison Burns Collection and the George Reid Collection of Medieval Manuscripts and early printed books.

In 1992 the museum expanded and opened a children’s section. The library offers “Rhyme Time” for toddlers and a summer reading program for school aged children. This year they had 139 children signed up for the summer reading program.

The library has a local history room. Items there are shelved by general subject, and then by specific areas of that general topic. They include family history research materials from 1561 to 1700 birth and marriage records. In the back room they have many items in storage including a gifted donation of glass negatives and accompanied handwritten indexes by local photographer Morris Allan, maps of Dunfermline, the 1851 to 1950 bound hard copies of the Dunfermline Journal, and the Scriptures of Saint Margaret Gospel (the other existing copy is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford).

A new museum and gallery is expected to open in Dunfermline by 2015. It will be an integrated facility with the Carnegie Library. Of course this is all dependent upon available money from the heritage fund.

Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

Central Library of Edinburgh is a Carnegie Library and opened its doors to the public in 1890. The architect George Washington Browne designed it in the French Renaissance style. Above the entrance there is a quote that reads “Let there be light.” Apparently, Andrew Carnegie insisted that this quote be inscribed in the entrances of all the Carnegie libraries. Today the library has two floors below ground, and a lending library, resource center, and learning center on the ground floor. On the first level above the ground floor is the Board Room, and on the second level there is the reference library and fine art library.

This library has a 24/7 online presence. The librarians attribute its increased membership to the continual online availability. On the website users can get information about the twenty-seven community libraries and their services. The library’s goal is to make the entire collection accessible, or into a virtual library. On the homepage there is a link to online services and resources e.g. language learning, businesses, funding, and ancestry. The library’s use of social media can be found in “A Tale of One’s City” on Twitter, YouTube, or the Flikr Channel. The librarians maintain a blog and a quarterly E-newsletter that serves about 1,000 people. Library 2GO provides E-books and E-Audio books online. The overall goal is to increase the use of the library’s resources and collections.

The library does a great deal of outreach and marketing to its users and potential users. It provides author events where authors come to the library and branch libraries to promote their books. They create book clubs/groups and promote readers to read outside of their preferred genre. There are about thirty library volunteers who visit “carehomes” and read poetry and other genres to the residents there. The library has also formed partnerships with other literary organizations such as the Scottish Storytelling Center and the annual Book Festival each August.

The library also provides classes to teach computer literacy, literacy, and numeracy. The computer literacy lessons are informal and usually last for six weeks. The learners are matched up with a buddy and work one on one with that person. The learning center also works with Dyslexia of Scotland and provides support for children and adults with dyslexia.

National Records of Scotland

The National Records of Scotland is the consolidation of the National Archives of Scotland and the General Register Office for Scotland. In 1789 the building was opened to the public. There are 450 staff, six public search rooms, and nine websites. The collection contains seventy-two kilometers of historical records, dating from the 12th century. It contains the Scottish register of births, marriages and deaths, as well as the Scottish Census records since 1841. The bound records are color-coded: black for death, red/maroon for birth, green for marriage. Only the most requested records get priority to be digitized, thereby determined by user requests. The oldest document is a brieve (the land the king granted for a church) from King David I from the 1120s. Also available are the digitized wills of the Scottish people that date from 1501 to 1901.

Online service provided by the NSR include the following:

Scottish Archive Network: 45 archives

Scotlandspeople genealogical information, old parish registers, catholic registers, coats of arms,

Scotlandsplaces- maps, plans, aerial photos, geographical data

Scottish register of tartans

Scottish paleography

Scottish Archives for Schools e.g. Glow (teacher resources/training)

Most of the National Records of Scotland users are from the older generation, say in the fifties and older, or professionals. The use of the records tends to increase with the airing of television shows regarding genealogy such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” Although the digital copies of records are available in house, they aren’t yet available online.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Christ Church Library, Oxford, England

The Christ Church Library was originally housed in the cloisters until 1772 when it was moved to his current location. The collection is organized by the name of the person who donated it, e.g. Aldrich, Stratford, and Wake. In the collection you will find first edition books by Copernicus and Galileo, Roman Scripts produced in England circa 550 to 1163, a 1326 illuminated manuscript for Edward III, eighty-six Byzantium Manuscripts from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. There are also illuminated Hebrew manuscripts, and about forty Arabic manuscripts. Additionally, the library has a collection of Lewis Carol’s work e.g. Alice and Wonderland.

The users can access the collection by making an appointment. They can get copies of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts that are online in pdf form. In the future, the library will be getting a digital studio to prepare metadata for online availability.